This post is the first in a series of developer-minded content on the state and future of voice commerce.

Virtual assistants have existed in one flavor or another for a few decades now. From the early iterations of Dragon’s NaturallySpeaking software in the late ’90s to text-based assistants on Instant Messenger (remember AIM?) and later to Amazon Alexa being released in November 2014, voice assistants are now ingrained in our lives. And they’re quickly becoming linchpins in the commerce world.

Though voice commerce is primarily a non-visual engagement, the shopper experience has to be empathetic enough to help customers get acquainted to this new channel of commerce, but also intelligent enough to make it easy for them to check their order histories and subscription statuses. Just because voice commerce is an audio-first channel doesn’t mean it shouldn’t sport exceptional CX. And building the right voice-assistant skills is one way of ensuring an exceptional ecommerce experience for your customer base.

Voice Assistants: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

We went from asking Siri “to close the pod bay doors,” and finding the quirks and easter eggs in its responses, to having travel directions, messaging functionality, and weather updates at our fingertips—or, more accurately, the tip of our tongues. After Alexa’s initial launch, pranksters would often randomly add items to the shopping lists of unsuspecting house party hosts (those were a thing pre-COVID). And now the entire voice assistant ecosystem has evolved enough to tie in additional ecommerce experiences so you’re no longer tied to just buying on Amazon, or just making a synced grocery list. In 2018, 47% of smart speaker owners were using voice assistants for product search and research, and 21% were using them to reorder frequently ordered items.

Voice shopping, in fact, has the potential to help grow ecommerce beyond the meteoric rise it’s had in the past few months. In 2017, 13% of smart speaker users made online purchases via voice. And according to OC&C Strategy Consultants, this number is predicted to reach 55% in 2022. Other predictions tell us that there 8 billion devices will have voice-assistant functionality by the year 2023.

voice commerce assistants 2020

Voice Skills vs. Commands

A command example would be “Computer, play ‘Everlong’ by Foo Fighters.” I’ve already created an association with Spotify on my device as the “default” music provider, allowing it to know what service I want it to use. Pretty straightforward stuff.

A skill is where the fun stuff comes in—you can install hundreds of skills to do anything, from more personalized personal assistants, games, extensions of websites:

But the voice assistant can go beyond just customer service features—you can set up skills that allow you to get information about your store. You could have shipment details, inventory levels, or even average-order-value just by asking your smart speaker, instead of emailing a coworker or diving into dashboards. You’re able to get the information you desire in a format that is easy for you to consume how you want it.

Up Next With Voice Commerce

As easy as it is to showcase statistics and what others have done, up next we will dive into showing off what can be done with Alexa Skills and tying them into Kibo’s APIs, enabling you to:

  • Authenticate an application
  • Develop a basic Alexa Skill using AWS Lamba
  • Showcase intents
  • Tie into the Kibo API to order a product

This post was written by Keith Baker, Sr. Enterprise Solution Developer, Kibo